N. America 1st-quarter cocoa grind up 6th straight time

Reuters

(Recasts lede, adds prior grind data, companies in survey, data from other regions)

NEW YORK, April 17 (Reuters) - North American cocoa grindings rose for the sixth straight quarter with the smallest increase in nearly a year-and-a-half after the 2013 figure was revised upward, data from the National Confectioners Association (NCA) said on Thursday.

North American cocoa grindings rose 1.03 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to 129,007 tonnes, from the first quarter of 2013.

The results, which are considered a gauge of demand for chocolate's key ingredient, are in line with estimates that pegged grinding anywhere from unchanged to 1.2 percent higher.

The NCA upwardly revised first-quarter 2013 grindings data by about 1,800 tonnes to 127,692 tonnes, from the 125,887 tonnes reported a year ago. The first-quarter 2014 data is up 2.5 percent from the original data.

The aggregate number of 17 plants reporting was unchanged.

The data was collected from 11 companies with plants in Canada, the United States and Mexico. Survey respondents included chocolate makers Barry Callebaut USA, The Blommer Chocolate Co, Hershey Co, Nestle Chocolate & Confections, ADM Cocoa and Mars Chocolate North America.

Last week, Europe's first quarter cocoa grind came in at a modest rise of 0.4 percent at 340,735 tonnes.

Earlier this week, Asia's quarterly cocoa grindings were reported up 3.7 percent at 159,617 tonnes, in stark contrast to Malaysian grinding, which tumbled 13.6 percent from the first quarter of 2013 to 62,359 tonnes. Malaysia's drop came as grinders there cut output in an attempt to tackle high powder inventories and some operations have shifted to Indonesia.

(Reporting by Marcy Nicholson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Bernard Orr)

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